1 Corinthians 12:4-6 (ESV):

4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.

(1) Spirit = the Holy Spirit; (2) Lord = the Son; (3) God = the Father. Is Paul referring to the members of the Trinity in 1 Cor 12:4-6?

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    I think this question is on-topic, though I'm not sure there's really a lot to say exegetically about verses such at this. I wouldn't want questions like this asked for every similar verse. Ultimately we each have to decide for ourselves what we think the weight of biblical evidence shows.
    – curiousdannii
    Apr 17, 2021 at 10:36
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    As usual, I am at a loss to know why some downvote such a valid question!! I presume that some have such mental conniption about anything that even mentions the trinity that their automatic response is a downvote.
    – Dottard
    Jul 1, 2021 at 2:21
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    @Dottard - to me, its an anachronism, similar to if we asked whether the verse is about Maslo's hierarchy of needs. Accurate or not, the Trinity is not a concept known In the Apostolic age
    – Steve can help
    Jul 2, 2021 at 6:00
  • There are 3 'entities' here, for sure, being referenced: God and his only begotten son being the more obvious. The 3rd entity is the spirit (pneuma), where some are sufficiently/obligedly 'opinionated' to capitalize the first letter. The word 'pneuma' is a noun, nominative, neuter, singular. Whether it is a proper noun, or just a regular noun is therefore a matter of opinion. The word can also mean 'breath', as in breath of God, or Jesus, or 'active force' of same, it cannot therefore be 'definitively' personal and there we have the 'facts' of the matter. The A. can therefore be exegetic. Jul 2, 2021 at 14:05

3 Answers 3


The answer is, as strongly as I can word it - "Very likely", that 1 Cor 12:4-6 mentions all three members of the Godhead. It is more certain if we include the previous verse as follows and quote 1 Cor 12:3-6

Therefore I inform you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. There are different gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different ministries, but the same Lord. There are different ways of working, but the same God works all things in all people.

Thus, it appears a neat, nested literary pattern Paul employs to drive the point home.

There are plenty of other places where the three members of the Godhead are explicitly listed such as:

  • Matt 3:16, 17 -As soon as Jesus was baptized, He went up out of the water. Suddenly the heavens were opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and resting on Him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased!” See also Mark 1:10,11, Luke 3:21, 22,
  • Matt 28:19 - Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit
  • John 14:26 - But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My [ = Jesus'] name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have told you.
  • John 15:26 - When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father—He will testify about Me [ = Jesus].
  • John 16:15 - Everything that belongs to the Father is Mine [ = Jesus]. That is why I said that the Spirit will take from what is Mine and disclose it to you.
  • Acts 2:33 - Exalted, then, to the right hand of God, He [= Jesus] has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.
  • Acts 10:38 - how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, because God was with Him.
  • Rom 1:1-4 - Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, and set apart for the gospel of God— the gospel He promised beforehand through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, regarding His Son, who was a descendant of David according to the flesh, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.
  • Rom 8:9 - You, however, are controlled not by the flesh, but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.
  • Rom 15:30 - Now I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.
  • 1 Cor 6:11 - And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
  • 2 Cor 13:14 - The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.
  • Gal 3:11-14 - Now it is clear that no one is justified before God by the law, because, “The righteous will live by faith.” The law, however, is not based on faith; on the contrary, “The man who does these things will live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. For it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” He redeemed us in order that the blessing promised to Abraham would come to the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.
  • Gal 4:6 - And because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”
  • Eph 1:17 - I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. [Compare John 16:13]
  • Eph 2:18 - For through Him [ = Jesus] we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
  • Eph 2:22 - And in Him [= Jesus] you too are being built together into a dwelling place for God in His Spirit
  • Titus 3:5, 6 - But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not by the righteous deeds we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of new birth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This is the Spirit He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior.
  • Heb 9:14 - how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself unblemished to God, purify our consciences from works of death, so that we may serve the living God!
  • Heb 10:29 - How much more severely do you think one deserves to be punished who has trampled on the Son of God, profaned the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and insulted the Spirit of grace?
  • 1 Peter 1:2, 3 - according to the foreknowledge of God the Father and sanctified by the Spirit for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by His blood:
  • 1 Peter 3:18 - For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit
  • 1 Peter 4:14 - If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
  • Jude 20, 21 - But you, beloved, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God as you await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you eternal life.

How on earth can a chapter talking solely of spiritual gifts and service to God be employed to justify the trinity?

I would humbly suggest that no, 1 Corinthians 12:4 has nothing to do with the trinity. This is especially so when you understand incarnation is a pagan ideology rejected by God Himself!

Numbers 23:19 I am not a man that I would lie nor the son of man that I would repent.
Hosea 11:9 I will not destroy Ephraim, for I am God and not a man

Consider Numbers 23:19 & Hosea 11:9 in the context of Jeremiah 16:19

19 LORD, my strength and my stronghold, my refuge in a time of distress, the nations will come to You from the ends of the earth, and they will say, "Our fathers inherited only lies, worthless idols of no benefit at all."

How far we have fallen.

  • About Numbers 23:19, you might find this interesting: christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/47058/…
    – user38524
    Apr 17, 2021 at 7:34
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    No one would dispute that at the time Numbers and Hosea were written God wasn't a man... You are aware they were many centuries before Jesus?
    – curiousdannii
    Apr 17, 2021 at 10:31
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    Yes, the philosophical concept of ‘INCARNATION’ is the opposite of the Scriptural concept of ‘MANIFESTATION.’ ‘INCARNATION’ is the ‘INVENTION’ of humanity which has NO Scriptural basis. ‘INCARCERATION’ is the very concept on which the doctrine of ‘Triune God’ has been founded. However, it has NO THING to do with the mystery of ‘MANIFESTATION.’ The Scripture says, ‘God was manifested in the flesh. (1Timothy 3:16)’. Since ‘God is Spirit (John 4:24), He remains ‘invisible: invisible God (Colossians 1:15)’ from eternity to eternity for He NEVER changes (Malachi 3:16). Apr 18, 2021 at 5:32
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    @TesfayeWolde - So how do you understand John 1:14, and, in particular, "the Word became flesh" (ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο - ho logos sarx egeneto)? Jun 30, 2021 at 15:00
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    @Tesfaye It is not God who is manifested in 1Timothy 3:16 - whoever it is is revealed in the last line - "Taken up in glory". Obviously this isn't God, but Jesus.
    – Steve
    Jul 1, 2021 at 11:18

Very clearly in the context and the whole of Paul's writings, it would be in contradiction to his understanding to imply otherwise that it is NOT referring to the concept of the Trinity.

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  • @Kristian Pearson Welcome to BH. To be upvoted I think you would need to show analysis of the key words that leads you to your conclusion. ie: I think your conclusion is fine but it is the quality of your how you got there that needs to be shown.
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